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The Audacity to Podcast

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I believe anyone can share a message to change the world, and podcasting is the BEST way to spread that message! I'm Daniel J. Lewis and this is where I give you the guts and teach you the tools to launch or improve your own podcast for sharing your passions and finding success! I cover all things podcasting: audio gear, video equipment, editing software, WordPress and plugins, social media promotion tools, marketing, and more with understandable in-depth information and easy-to-follow steps. If you want to know how to podcast or grow the show you already have, this show is for you! Have a podcasting question or suggestion? Email Feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com or call (903) 231-2221. Please subscribe and I will give you THE AUDACITY to podcast!

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The Audacity to Podcast Will Return on October 22!
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> After a nearly two-year hiatus, it’s time to bring back The Audacity to Podcast! The format and production will be a little different from before, but I will continue with what has always been my goal: to give you the guts and teach you the tools to start and grow your own podcast for passion or profit. My next few episodes will be about some great new and updated podcasting tools I think you should try, such as the much-hyped RØDECaster Pro, SecondLine Themes for WordPress, Captivate’s new podcast hosting, and more! So watch TheAudacitytoPodcast.com and your podcast app for new episodes of The Audacity to Podcast on Tuesday mornings! While you wait, please check out my videos from Podcast Movement 2019 where I interviewed 18 exhibitors to share new podcasting resources with you. And I hope you’ll join me, Daniel J. Lewis, for the return of The Audacity to Podcast on October 22! Thanks for listening, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the support and encouragement! Stay subscribed! Stay podcasting! And you’ll hear from me again soon!
Who Offers the Fastest Podcast Hosting? – TAP335
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> Podcast media (whether audio or video) must live somewhere on the Internet so it can be downloaded via RSS feeds. This hosting needs to be powerful enough to deliver the media files quickly and handle the load of hundreds or thousands of simultaneous downloads when new episodes are released. Here are the performance results from the most popular podcast hosting companies. Does podcast hosting speed even matter? The short answer is yes, but only to a point. I started this project curious about feed-hosting performance between separate web hosting providers (shared, managed, and VPS), different caching options, and mirroring tools (FeedBurner and Podcast Mirror). Aside from two specific exceptions (more on that below), feed performance from numerous providers was acceptably fast. While one host might be faster than another, it was faster by less than a second on feeds that were already loading in under 1 second. So as long as a feed loads within 1 or 2 seconds, exact speeds become a moot point. If, however, a feed takes several seconds or longer to load, that increases the possibility of timeouts, which can result in a podcast app’s failure to refresh podcast RSS feeds to even see what new episodes are available to download. I’ve seen this happen before where one podcast app could download all the episode, but another app wouldn’t refresh the feed. And then, I realized my test could be easily adapted to measure and compare file-hosting speeds. So I turned my attention to media files, which were easier to compare and possibly more important to measure. But as with feeds, media hosting across most of the providers was fast enough that it wouldn’t cause any noticeable difference. A feed and media host is fast enough when someone can press a button and start listening with little to no delay. (Podcasters can make the mistake of attaching large images to ID3 tags, which can cause playback delays because the ID3 information must download before audio data.) It’s also important to remember most podcast apps will check feeds and download new episodes automatically in the background. So even if it took five minutes for an episode to download, most of the audience might not be affected because the episode will be there waiting for them when they open their podcast app. This audience-helping benefit is a big reason we need to keep downloading possible in podcasting, instead of catering to money-focused advertisers who want to kill the download and switch to streaming. But that’s a different discussion. Testing methodology You’re free to skip this part if you don’t want the technical details. I wrote a program in Node to measure the time it takes to download a feed or media file from a given URL. I included options to test feeds with Gzip compression or HTTP/2. You can view my Podcast Speed Test source code and try it on your own computer or server. Each feed or media URL was tested 10 consecutive times and then combined into average and median results. If there was a significantly different average from median, I would re-run the test, except in the case of Podiant. Every first one or two tests of Podiant resulted in very slow download times. I suspect Podiant doesn’t propagate a media file to local servers until it is first requested from that location, and thus the first download is slow. Because this was predictable and repeatable, I left the data in (reflected on averages) and I think it’s concerning for that poor first soul who must download from their local server more slowly than the next person. Using Vultr as my VPS provider, I tested from sixteen regions: Atlanta, Georgia, USANew York/New Jersey, USAChicago, Illinois, USADallas, Texas, USALos Angeles, California, USAMiami, Florida, USASeattle, Washington, USASilicon Valley, California, USAToronto, Ontario, CanadaAmsterdam, the NetherlandsParis, Italy, FranceFrankfurt, GermanyLondon, England, United KingdomTokyo, JapanSingaporeSydney, New South Wales, AustraliaEach region has a high-speed network connection of multiple gigabits per second. Feed testing specifics Podcast RSS feeds can be difficult to test and compare because each feed-generator (WordPress with PowerPress, Libsyn, Buzzsprout, Spreaker, etc.) may do things differently. And it wasn’t reasonable to try replicating a complete RSS feed across every tool. Some tools may include extra tags for every episode, while other tools omit such tags. Some tools may truncate the show notes, while other tools publish full show notes. Instead, my method was to find a small feed (100–250 KB) and a large feed (2 MB or more) from each generator, mirror those feeds to a benchmark host, and then compare the performance against that consistent benchmark. I chose FeedBurner and Podcast Mirror, but FeedBurner can’t handle feeds larger than 1 MB, so I used it for only small and medium feeds. A third option I could have used would have been to copy the RSS feed code to my own server, but I stuck with Podcast Mirror because it’s something anyone can use. This kind of mirroring resulted in only a 1–2 KB difference in feed size, but gave me a relative standard. After 10 consecutive tests, a sample feed’s median result would be ranked based on its performance factor compared to the feed on Podcast Mirror as the benchmark. Thus, each feed would be above or below 1.0 compared to the Podcast Mirror benchmark. Media testing specifics Media hosting was much easier to test than feed hosted. I used the 1-hour MP3 from episode 229 of The Audacity to Podcast. That file was 44.1 KHz, mono, 16-bit, 64 kbps, giving me a 27.5 MB file. I uploaded that to every media host I reasonably could, and ran the same download tests. Unfortunately, some media hosts re-encoded my file, changing the file size, and thus making the measurements a little unfair, but I included them nonetheless and indicate the file sizes in the charts. Try your own tests! If you’re comfortable installing and running Node from a command line, you can download my Podcast Speed Test source code to run on your own computer or server. Use at your own risk, and some of my sample tests may be removed or broken by the time you test. Feed performance results Because of the complicated nature of testing feeds (described above), I didn’t run as many tests, because I realized it was mostly a moot point with nearly every feed provider loading feeds (which are usually smaller than 1 MB) in a fraction of a second. So for the sake of brevity, I’ll omit all that data for now. But there were two important exceptions. SoundCloud feeds were consistently the slowest, taking seconds to load a small feed, and longer to load larger feeds. Because of this, I recommend never using a SoundCloud RSS feed. If you must use SoundCloud for podcast hosting (they’re a really bad podcast-hosting provider), mirror your feed through Blubrry’s free Podcast Mirror service or even use FeedBurner (but I still don’t recommend FeedBurner’s features, like SmartCast). Uncached feeds were as bad as SoundCloud. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster. Such feeds were usually powered by WordPress or another content-management system. But all it took to fix that performance was simple caching. With caching, it’s important to check that the podcast feed is being cached with whatever caching option you’re using. For example, caching plugins like WP Rocket and WP Super Cache allow custom inclusions and exclusions, usually defaulting to include the RSS feeds. But other caching plugins might not offer such options, or might not refresh all the caches when you publish a new episode, or might exclude the RSS feeds altogether (SpinupWP’s page caching excluded the feeds, but Liquid Web and Flywheel included the feeds). So the takeaways here are: Don’t use Soundcloud (for hosting your feed, or if you do, then use Podcast Mirror).If you generate your feed with WordPress, implement proper caching or use Podcast Mirror.Any poorly performing feed could be improved by switching to Podcast Mirror.Podcast media performance results For hosting my sample MP3 file, I tested: Amazon S3*Anchor, which uses CloudfrontArchive.org*Audioboom (re-encoded to 55.6 MB)BlubrryBunny CDN*BuzzsproutCaptivateCastosFiresideiVooxLibsynOmny Studio (thanks to Adam Jaffrey from Wavelength Creative)Pinecast (thanks to Dave Jackson from School of Podcasting)PippaPodbean Unlimited AudioPodbean Unlimited PlusPodbean Business BasicPodcast.coPodiant (re-encoded to 41.2 MB)Podigee (re-encoded to 35.7 MB)Podmio, which uses Amazon S3 (thanks to Podrick Scuadrick from PodScure)podOmatic (re-encoded to 41.37 MB, but paid plans make re-encoding optional)Podserve.fmRedCircle (re-encoded to 55.1 MB)SimplecastSiteGround*SoundCloudSpreakerTransistor (thanks to Podrick Scuadrick from PodScure)Whooshka (re-encoded to 55.1 MB)ZenCast*Not a podcast-hosting provider. I could not get test accounts with Art19 or Megaphone. Please note that some of these hosts re-encoded my MP3 file without my option to change it, always resulting in a bigger file than I uploaded. One exception is Buzzsprout who re-encodes only down, but never up. So my 64 kbps mono file was not re-encoded up to 96 kbps mono on Buzzsprout like it was re-encoded up to various rates with the other indicated hosts. For disclosure, some of the paid-for hosting options were provided by the respective companies at no cost to me for the sake of my testing and review. I also invited any hosting company to preview this article before publication, which often opened a beneficial dialog, but did not affect the data. If you represent a podcast-hosting company I didn’t include and you want to see your service tested and listed here, please contact me! Combined global averages and medians First, let’s look at the combined global timings for each hosting company. Each test was performed 10 consecutive times and those results combined to calculate regional and global averages and medians. Where the average and median greatly differ illustrates potential slowness in a host. if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[9] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Amazon S3*","Anchor (Cloudfront)","Archive.org*","Audioboom (55.6 MB)","Blubrry","Bunny CDN*","Buzzsprout","Captivate","Castos","Fireside","iVoox","Libsyn","Omny Studio","Pinecast","Pippa","Podbean Unlimited Audio","Podbean Unlimited Plus","Podbean Business Basic","Podcast.co","Podiant (41.2 MB)","Podigee (35.7 MB)","Podmio (S3)","podOmatic (41.37 MB)","Podserve.fm","RedCircle (55.1 MB)","Simplecast","SiteGround*","SoundCloud","Spreaker","Transistor","Whooshka (55.1 MB)","Zencast"],"datasets":[{"label":"Global Average of Averages","orig_header":"Global Average of Averages","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[2298.625,402.125,2589.6875,1188.9375,2139.125,685.875,362.5625,517.5,365.1875,251.6875,1613.6875,402.25,1310,621.625,345.875,21612.0625,24667.8125,345.5,451,3036.3125,5194.75,2115.6875,21447,1043.875,3415.125,991.4375,10127.5625,422.9375,2414.3125,380.5625,1001.625,2951.875],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Global Median of Medians","orig_header":"Global Median of Medians","backgroundColor":"rgba(54,162,235,0.2)","borderColor":"#36a2eb","borderWidth":1,"data":[1490,131.25,2462.5,318.75,102.25,151.25,225.25,188.75,157.75,179.25,1033.75,92.25,333.5,227.75,187.5,7596,9036.5,122,173,251.75,2888.25,1450.5,3256.75,202.75,2496.75,187,3688,145.25,2342.5,198.5,212.25,2491.75],"lineTension":0}]},"options":{"maintainAspectRatio":true,"scales":{"xAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""}}],"yAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""},"ticks":{"beginAtZero":true,"min":0}}]},"title":{"display":true,"text":"Global podcast media hosting speeds (unfiltered)","position":"top","fontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","fontStyle":"bold","fontColor":"#333333"},"tooltips":{"enabled":true,"mode":"single","backgroundColor":"rgb(0,0,0)","cornerRadius":3},"legend":{"display":true,"position":"top"}},"globalOptions":{"defaultFontSize":"","defaultFontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","defaultFontStyle":"bold","defaultFontColor":"rgb(0,0,0)"}},"configurations":{"type":"chartjs_column_chart","container":{"height":"600","width":0},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"","borderWidth":"0","borderColor":"","borderRadius":"0"}}}, engine: "chartjs", type: "chartjs_column_chart", title: "Global podcast media hosting speeds (unfiltered)", container: "wpDataChart_9", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 8, group_chart: 0} About Podbean and podOmatic Whoa there, Podbean and podOmatic! Those two were the slowest hosts. Podbeans Unlimited Audio and Unlimited Plus plans are designed with lower performance to be more budget-friendly, while the Business Basic plan performs on par with competitors. This slower performance may seem horrible, but remember this is a 60-minute MP3 that downloaded completely in a global combined median under 10 seconds. That’s about 6 minutes of audio downloaded in only 1 second. Even if the MP3 was encoded at higher bitrates, it’s still fast enough that most podcast consumers would not notice a difference. Nonetheless, if you have a large audience or your business depends on your podcast, it’s worth investing in a faster hosting option. podOmatic didn’t appear to have a free trial for their premium plans, so I wasn’t able to test for differing performance. If you host with Podbean’s Unlimited Audio and do not use their RSS feed for your podcast, I suggest updating your download URLs to the new mcdn.podbean.com URLs, which nearly double the previous performance, as shown in the following chart. if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[14] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Old Podbean Unlimited Audio","Old Podbean Unlimited Plus","Old Podbean Business Basic","New Podbean Unlimited Audio","New Podbean Unlimited Plus","New Podbean Business Basic"],"datasets":[{"label":"Global Average","orig_header":"Global Average of Averages","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[50693.75,6988.8125,402.3125,21612.0625,24667.8125,345.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Global Median","orig_header":"Global Median of Medians","backgroundColor":"rgba(54,162,235,0.2)","borderColor":"#36a2eb","borderWidth":1,"data":[35116.25,2408.75,134,7596,9036.5,122],"lineTension":0}]},"options":{"maintainAspectRatio":true,"scales":{"xAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""}}],"yAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""},"ticks":{"beginAtZero":true,"min":0}}]},"title":{"display":true,"text":"Podbean old vs. new URL speeds","position":"top","fontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","fontStyle":"bold","fontColor":"#333333"},"tooltips":{"enabled":true,"mode":"single","backgroundColor":"rgb(0,0,0)","cornerRadius":3},"legend":{"display":true,"position":"top"}},"globalOptions":{"defaultFontSize":"","defaultFontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","defaultFontStyle":"bold","defaultFontColor":"rgb(0,0,0)"}},"configurations":{"type":"chartjs_column_chart","container":{"height":"600","width":0},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"","borderWidth":"0","borderColor":"","borderRadius":"0"}}}, engine: "chartjs", type: "chartjs_column_chart", title: "Podbean old vs. new URL speeds", container: "wpDataChart_14", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 9, group_chart: 0} (This CDN change is automatic for customers using the Podbean RSS feed.) Regional medians Get ready for data overload! Here are the median results from all 16 test locations. Click on items in the legend to hide that date from the chart and make other data more visible. (I’ll embed the full data table at the end of this article.) To make the charts more visible, I split the slowest hosts into their own chart. if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[12] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Amazon S3*","Anchor (Cloudfront)","Archive.org*","Audioboom (55.6 MB)","Blubrry","Bunny CDN*","Buzzsprout","Captivate","Castos","Fireside","iVoox","Libsyn","Omny Studio","Pinecast","Pippa","Podbean Business Basic","Podcast.co","Podiant (41.2 MB)","Podmio (S3)","Podserve.fm","RedCircle (55.1 MB)","Simplecast","SoundCloud","Spreaker","Transistor","Whooshka (55.1 MB)","Zencast"],"datasets":[{"label":"NY\/NJ","orig_header":"NY\/NJ Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[345,149,2559,282,71,118.5,299,196.5,150,240.5,90.5,106.5,265.5,228,189.5,149,181,219,363,97,1760,147,143.5,1290,247,239,2046.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Chicago","orig_header":"Chicago Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(54,162,235,0.2)","borderColor":"#36a2eb","borderWidth":1,"data":[536,236,1379.5,360,61.5,111.5,347.5,118,116,262.5,991,80,367,224.5,278,140,283,171,531.5,376,1124.5,184.5,230.5,1845.5,350,271.5,2399],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Dallas","orig_header":"Dallas Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,206,86,0.2)","borderColor":"#ffce56","borderWidth":1,"data":[699,164.5,988.5,355.5,80.5,235,281.5,130,226.5,242,437.5,95,345,319,309.5,135,252,230.5,816,77.5,1161.5,149,156.5,5050,234,242,2617.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"LA","orig_header":"Los Angeles Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(75,192,192,0.2)","borderColor":"#4bc0c0","borderWidth":1,"data":[1151,102,360,222.5,96.5,143,237,239,174,179.5,1222,129.5,223.5,198.5,194.5,83,211,96,1195.5,76.5,2206,93,121,2308.5,209,164,3167.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Silicon Valley","orig_header":"Silicon Valley Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(153,102,255,0.2)","borderColor":"#9966ff","borderWidth":1,"data":[1421.5,136,404,151.5,56.5,298,252,266.5,400.5,152.5,1134,125,151,210,193.5,79,164,325.5,1427.5,196,5095.5,100.5,147,2376.5,162,169.5,3449.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Atlanta","orig_header":"Atlanta Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,159,64,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff9f40","borderWidth":1,"data":[479.5,896,2366,1062,128,188,342.5,198,161,219,241,138,1209.5,386,249,120,455,392,530,505.5,1995.5,189.5,375,2531,242.5,281.5,2514.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Miami","orig_header":"Miami Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(166,206,227,0.2)","borderColor":"#a6cee3","borderWidth":1,"data":[559,174.5,2214,410.5,68,175.5,501,181,147.5,198,603.5,64.5,443,274,174.5,109,115,544,589.5,697.5,1287,205.5,180.5,1553.5,172.5,281,2469],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Seattle","orig_header":"Seattle Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(106,61,154,0.2)","borderColor":"#6a3d9a","borderWidth":1,"data":[1558.5,114.5,556.5,248.5,400.5,349.5,209.5,452,258,227,1722.5,394,322,284.5,153,119,151,83.5,1473.5,668,1886.5,568.5,545.5,3585,216,164.5,3811.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Toronto","orig_header":"Toronto Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(177,89,40,0.2)","borderColor":"#b15928","borderWidth":1,"data":[598.5,466,2022,686,255,970.5,175.5,147,139.5,187.5,518,63,1209,183,160,491,136,273,637.5,209.5,1308,813,459.5,2376.5,220.5,1605.5,1982],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Amsterdam","orig_header":"Amsterdam Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(251,154,153,0.2)","borderColor":"#fb9a99","borderWidth":1,"data":[2125,126.5,3127.5,244.5,68.5,145.5,156.5,101,154.5,151.5,575.5,81.5,231,941.5,180,163,125,131,1838,168.5,2886,206,116.5,999.5,120.5,487.5,398],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Paris","orig_header":"Paris Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[1774.5,75,3489,135.5,189,95.5,159.5,270,207.5,179,2074.5,193.5,129,296.5,114.5,216,243,488,1677,83,2879,106.5,77,381,188,165.5,396],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Frankfurt","orig_header":"Frankfurt Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(54,162,235,0.2)","borderColor":"#36a2eb","borderWidth":1,"data":[2012,68,3981.5,128.5,108,103,127,130.5,145,162.5,2149.5,73.5,135,207.5,199,176,185,112,1900.5,164.5,3205,133.5,71.5,442,155,166.5,433],"lineTension":0},{"label":"London","orig_header":"London Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,206,86,0.2)","borderColor":"#ffce56","borderWidth":1,"data":[1614.5,151.5,2747.5,253.5,78.5,157,213.5,221.5,170.5,130,1736.5,83.5,243,227.5,178.5,124,138,114,1551,171.5,2787.5,141.5,154.5,391,185,190,502],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Tokyo","orig_header":"Tokyo Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(75,192,192,0.2)","borderColor":"#4bc0c0","borderWidth":1,"data":[3752,82,2607,2503.5,1882.5,106,206.5,150.5,147,164.5,1076.5,75,2476,197,177,73,106,575,3447,2126,4188,1646,80.5,2997.5,211,172.5,6100.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Singapore","orig_header":"Singapore Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(153,102,255,0.2)","borderColor":"#9966ff","borderWidth":1,"data":[4945,106.5,4205.5,4808,4665.5,112.5,261,148,146,109.5,482.5,89.5,5028,155,185.5,98,126,451.5,4792,6483,7993,3102,114.5,2906,141.5,176.5,6264],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Sydney","orig_header":"Sydney Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,159,64,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff9f40","borderWidth":1,"data":[4582,111,4539.5,5018,2984,331,154,2487,2076,145,7343.5,2172,5214,944.5,237,75,2123,3893.5,4533.5,3128,8949.5,5936.5,100.5,4054,157,234.5,6887],"lineTension":0}]},"options":{"maintainAspectRatio":true,"scales":{"xAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""}}],"yAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""},"ticks":{"beginAtZero":true,"min":0}}]},"title":{"display":true,"text":"Regional podcast media hosting speeds (faster)","position":"top","fontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","fontStyle":"bold","fontColor":"#333333"},"tooltips":{"enabled":true,"mode":"single","backgroundColor":"rgb(0,0,0)","cornerRadius":3},"legend":{"display":true,"position":"top"}},"globalOptions":{"defaultFontSize":"","defaultFontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","defaultFontStyle":"bold","defaultFontColor":"rgb(0,0,0)"}},"configurations":{"type":"chartjs_column_chart","container":{"height":"600","width":0},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"","borderWidth":"0","borderColor":"","borderRadius":"0"}}}, engine: "chartjs", type: "chartjs_column_chart", title: "Regional podcast media hosting speeds (faster)", container: "wpDataChart_12", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 8, group_chart: 0} if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[15] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Podbean Unlimited Audio","Podbean Unlimited Plus","Podigee (35.7 MB)","podOmatic (41.37 MB)","SiteGround*"],"datasets":[{"label":"NY\/NJ","orig_header":"NY\/NJ Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[7629,7104,1821.5,2060,2928.5],"lineTension":0},{"label":"Chicago","orig_header":"Chicago 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"chartjs_column_chart", title: "Regional podcast media hosting speeds (slower)", container: "wpDataChart_15", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 8, group_chart: 0} About half of the providers offer extremely-fast hosting for North America, but slow down in other parts of the world, especially Sydney and Singapore. Buzzsprout, Fireside, Pinecast, Pippa, Podbean Business Plus, Transistor, and, surprisingly, Soundcloud were the only options with consistently fast downloads to every test region (including Sydney and Singapore). Remember these are medians, not averages. So a single bad test out of 10 consecutive tests would barely affect the results. Wi-Fi timings Wi-Fi is a significant normalizer for download speeds and it’s more likely how most people will download podcast episodes. Here are the results of the same download tests conducted over a Wi-Fi 5 network (formerly known as 802.11ac) with a 200 mbps (down) Internet-service provider in greater Cincinnati. if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[13] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Amazon S3*","Anchor (Cloudfront)","Archive.org*","Audioboom (55.6 MB)","Blubrry","Bunny CDN*","Buzzsprout","Captivate","Castos","Fireside","iVoox","Libsyn","Omny Studio","Pinecast","Pippa","Podbean Unlimited Audio","Podbean Unlimited Plus","Podbean Business Basic","Podcast.co","Podiant (41.2 MB)","Podigee (35.7 MB)","Podmio (S3)","podOmatic (41.37 MB)","Podserve.fm","RedCircle (55.1 MB)","Simplecast","SiteGround*","SoundCloud","Spreaker","Transistor","Whooshka (55.1 MB)","Zencast"],"datasets":[{"label":"Median","orig_header":"Wifi Median","backgroundColor":"rgba(54,162,235,0.2)","borderColor":"#36a2eb","borderWidth":1,"data":[2519.5,2548,3812.5,3278,1778,2542,1840,1823,1769,1698,2670.5,1781,1709,1696.5,1703.5,19652,22161,2048,1788,2625,6917,2533,13086.5,2325.5,3943,1792.5,3022.5,1767,5138,1702.5,4113,2637],"lineTension":0}]},"options":{"maintainAspectRatio":true,"scales":{"xAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""}}],"yAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""},"ticks":{"beginAtZero":true,"min":0}}]},"title":{"display":true,"text":"Wi-Fi podcast media hosting medians","position":"top","fontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","fontStyle":"bold","fontColor":"#333333"},"tooltips":{"enabled":true,"mode":"single","backgroundColor":"rgb(0,0,0)","cornerRadius":3},"legend":{"display":false,"position":"top"}},"globalOptions":{"defaultFontSize":"","defaultFontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","defaultFontStyle":"bold","defaultFontColor":"rgb(0,0,0)"}},"configurations":{"type":"chartjs_column_chart","container":{"height":"600","width":0},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"","borderWidth":"0","borderColor":"","borderRadius":"0"}}}, engine: "chartjs", type: "chartjs_column_chart", title: "Wi-Fi podcast media hosting medians", container: "wpDataChart_13", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 8, group_chart: 0} This raises the floor from milliseconds to seconds. There’s still some significant difference between hosts (such as Podbean and Buzzsprout), but the Wi-Fi connection (at least at 200 mbps) makes more of the hosts perform about the same as opposed to the multi-gigabit network speeds of my Vultr servers. Untested factors My regional tests were performed on virtual private servers with a multi-gigabit network connection. Real-world results will vary greatly depending on Internet speed, wireless signal strength, and device hardware. That’s another reason you may not need the fastest host: typical Wi-Fi connections and local bandwidth could normalize a lot of these results. Every test was performed consecutively, with no overlap. Thus, my data doesn’t reflect potential performance differences when there are hundreds or thousands of devices requesting the same thing at the same time. But I think it’s likely that the best perform providers also have the backend performance to meet the high demands of simultaneous downloads. And this is why a CDN is important: if the file lives in only one place on the Internet, such as with Amazon S3 or a web host, then simultaneous downloads can easily overload the bandwidth of that single point. But with a CDN, someone in California could be downloading a file from a completely different server compared to someone in London. I also could not test the upload performance of each podcast host. I’ve heard from some podcasters outside North America that uploading to some providers is extremely slow from their region because the media must first go to a server in the USA before spreading across the CDN. As frustrating as this could be for podcasters, it’s something that occurs only once per episode and doesn’t affect the audience. Nonetheless, if it becomes too frustrating for your situation, you might want to consider a different host. An important discovery on stats Only a podcast-hosting company will provide podcast stats. This is a big reason to avoid hosting your podcast media on a non-podcast host (like Amazon S3, your web host, or a private CDN) unless you can layer reputable tracking (such as Blubrry Stats) into your download URLs or, of course, you build your own IAB certified system to analyze the raw download logs. Because my testing was done with bots that were not declaring a user agent (let alone a podcast-app user agent), I wanted to see how some of these hosts would count my test downloads. 0 would be best, 16 (1 per test region) would be acceptable, and anything more than 16 would be concerning. if(typeof(wpDataCharts)=='undefined'){wpDataCharts = {};}; wpDataCharts[8] = {render_data: {"options":{"data":{"labels":["Anchor (Cloudfront)","Audioboom (55.6 MB)","Blubrry","Buzzsprout","Captivate","Castos","Fireside","iVoox","Libsyn","Omny Studio","Pinecast","Pippa","Podbean Unlimited Audio","Podbean Unlimited Plus","Podbean Business Basic","Podcast.co","Podiant (41.2 MB)","Podigee (35.7 MB)","Podmio (S3)","podOmatic (41.37 MB)","Podserve.fm","RedCircle (55.1 MB)","SiteGround*","SoundCloud","Spreaker","Transistor"],"datasets":[{"label":"Stats","orig_header":"Stats","backgroundColor":"rgba(255,99,132,0.2)","borderColor":"#ff6384","borderWidth":1,"data":[16,32,0,0,0,0,160,32,0,0,0,160,0,0,0,160,32,16,160,0,16,16,0,24,16,0],"lineTension":0}]},"options":{"maintainAspectRatio":true,"scales":{"xAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":""}}],"yAxes":[{"scaleLabel":{"display":true,"labelString":"Downloads tracked"},"ticks":{"beginAtZero":true,"min":0}}]},"title":{"display":true,"text":"Bots counted as podcast downloads","position":"top","fontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","fontStyle":"bold","fontColor":"#333333"},"tooltips":{"enabled":true,"mode":"single","backgroundColor":"rgb(0,0,0)","cornerRadius":3},"legend":{"display":false,"position":"top"}},"globalOptions":{"defaultFontSize":"","defaultFontFamily":"Quattrocento Sans","defaultFontStyle":"bold","defaultFontColor":"rgb(0,0,0)"}},"configurations":{"type":"chartjs_column_chart","container":{"height":"400","width":0},"canvas":{"backgroundColor":"","borderWidth":"0","borderColor":"","borderRadius":"0"}}}, engine: "chartjs", type: "chartjs_column_chart", title: "Bots counted as podcast downloads", container: "wpDataChart_8", follow_filtering: 0, wpdatatable_id: 8, group_chart: 0} These podcast hosts did not count any downloads from my bots: BlubrryBuzzsproutCaptivateCastosLibsynOmny StudioPinecastPodbeanpodOmaticTransistorWhooshkaZenCastThese podcast hosts counted some downloads: Anchor: 16Podigee: 16Podserve.fm: 16RedCircle: 16Simplecast: 8 (I’m guessing it counted only one per continent)Spreaker: 16Podcast stats were not available from Amazon S3, Archive.org, SiteGround, and Bunny CDN because they’re not podcast-hosting companies. And here are the concerning hosts I suggest avoiding because their stats counted more than 1 download per bot (for unknown reasons): Audioboom: 32iVoox: 32Podiant: 32SoundCloud: 24And here’s the current naughty list of hosts that counted every bot download, resulting in 160 fake downloads. Fireside—working on changes in July that should better filter downloadsPippa—see below for how to change the default and make Pippa stats more accuratePodcast.co—working on changes in July that should better filter downloadsPodmioI hate to throw any company “under the bus,” but the tracking from these four offenders was so vulnerable that I could have a single bot download the same episode 1,000 times in 15 minutes, and it artificially inflated the stats by exactly 1,000. In the interest of journalistic integrity, I reached out to these four hosts to alert them of the vulnerability and let them see my data before I published, so they will probably work to resolve this vulnerability as soon as possible. Fireside was already refining their tracking, and Pippa pointed me to a buried option. Pippa’s buried “analytics windowing” Pippa offers an “analytics windowing” option buried in the advanced settings, described as follows. Windowing affects the way that plays of your podcast are counted and presented. For example, with a 1 hour window, if the same device plays the same episode twice within 1 hour, then only 1 play will be counted in the analytics. Windowing does not affect delivery of the podcast to listeners, only presentation of the analytics. Your chosen window will be effective going forward, not backwards. (When Pippa says “play,” they really mean “download.”) Thus, Pippa presents three windowing options: deactivated (the default), 1 hour, and 24 hours (IAB’s measurement guidelines). I conducted my tests with the default show settings, and thus with windowing deactivated. This explains why the stats were so easy to manipulate on Pippa. When I changed the windowing option and retested, Pippa counted only 1 download per region. That’s an acceptable number, but leaving this option to the user, buried in advanced settings, and having it deactivated by default is still corrupting the data. For Pippa stats, this would always require the question, “How is your analytics windowing configured?” Thus, it’s possible to have three separate podcasts with identical audiences report three completely different numbers. Conclusion If you want the truly fastest podcast media hosting, or you want to ensure your hosting can handle the high demands of simultaneous downloads, then I recommend choosing the best performers from this list (in no particular order). Top recommendation still: Blubrry or Libsyn tied for first place—IAB certified and in process, respectivelyCaptivate—claims to follow IAB guidelines and interest in certificationTransistor—claims to follow IAB guidelinesSimplecast—claims to follow IAB guidelinesBuzzsprout—claims to follow IAB guidelinesPodbean Business Basic—claims to follow IAB guidelinesPinecast—claims to follow IAB guidelinesWhooshka—IAB certified (but they re-encode up)Complete data table Host Stats Wifi Average Wifi Median Global Average of Averages Global Median of Medians NY/NJ Average NY/NJ Median Chicago Average Chicago Median Dallas Average Dallas Median Los Angeles Average Los Angeles Median Silicon Valley Average Silicon Valley Median Atlanta Average Atlanta Median Miami Average Miami Median Seattle Average Seattle Median Toronto Average Toronto Median Amsterdam Average Amsterdam Median Paris Average Paris Median Frankfurt Average Frankfurt Median London Average London Median Tokyo Average Tokyo Median Singapore Average Singapore Median Sydney Average Sydney Median Amazon S3* 3,638 2,519 2,298 1,490 485 345 530 536 703 699 1,163 1,151 1,419 1,421 502 479 586 559 2,681 1,558 679 598 2,127 2,125 1,712 1,774 2,039 2,012 1,657 1,614 6,773 3,752 8,847 4,945 4,875 4,582 Anchor (Cloudfront) 16 2,548 2,548 402 131 280 149 411 236 862 164 102 102 200 136 1,084 896 367 174 122 114 590 466 636 126 319 75 290 68 495 151 91 82 169 106 416 111 Archive.org* 3,907 3,812 2,589 2,462 2,546 2,559 1,701 1,379 950 988 566 360 475 404 3,169 2,366 2,415 2,214 602 556 2,445 2,022 3,194 3,127 3,421 3,489 4,848 3,981 2,796 2,747 2,671 2,607 4,678 4,205 4,958 4,539 Audioboom (55.6 MB) 32 3,284 3,278 1,188 318 383 282 511 360 499 355 229 222 289 151 1,219 1,062 597 410 469 248 802 686 273 244 317 135 335 128 538 253 2,526 2,503 4,928 4,808 5,108 5,018 Blubrry 0 1,807 1,778 2,139 102 104 71 142 61 203 80 113 96 78 56 138 128 95 68 414 400 261 255 391 68 516 189 110 108 434 78 1,975 1,882 26,180 4,665 3,072 2,984 Bunny CDN* 5,188 2,542 685 151 464 118 164 111 528 235 145 143 1,756 298 184 188 243 175 781 349 1,736 970 818 145 1,500 95 488 103 154 157 109 106 135 112 1,769 331 Buzzsprout 0 1,837 1,840 362 225 338 299 447 347 336 281 259 237 621 252 320 342 481 501 216 209 419 175 375 156 282 159 274 127 345 213 271 206 262 261 555 154 Captivate 0 2,019 1,823 517 188 263 196 157 118 271 130 255 239 321 266 208 198 328 181 570 452 169 147 328 101 490 270 128 130 404 221 161 150 149 148 4,078 2,487 Castos 0 1,806 1,769 365 157 169 150 129 116 226 226 192 174 427 400 198 161 185 147 266 258 148 139 204 154 207 207 166 145 288 170 438 147 496 146 2,104 2,076 Fireside 160 1,695 1,698 251 179 415 240 264 262 254 242 200 179 154 152 223 219 203 198 232 227 189 187 165 151 175 179 152 162 349 130 332 164 356 109 364 145 iVoox 32 3,056 2,670 1,613 1,033 113 90 1,236 991 816 437 1,243 1,222 1,556 1,134 264 241 662 603 2,069 1,722 753 518 806 575 2,164 2,074 2,263 2,149 1,893 1,736 1,675 1,076 595 482 7,711 7,343 Libsyn 0 1,787 1,781 402 92 234 106 248 80 397 95 132 129 128 125 300 138 83 64 452 394 298 63 105 81 709 193 89 73 436 83 88 75 110 89 2,627 2,172 Omny Studio 0 1,811 1,709 1,310 333 305 265 689 367 936 345 227 223 240 151 1,482 1,209 503 443 346 322 1,295 1,209 865 231 727 129 165 135 268 243 2,495 2,476 5,101 5,028 5,316 5,214 Pinecast 0 1,696 1,696 621 227 276 228 266 224 856 319 192 198 528 210 421 386 431 274 420 284 260 183 2,397 941 1,199 296 322 207 599 227 462 197 499 155 818 944 Pippa 160 1,687 1,703 345 187 223 189 277 278 359 309 189 194 633 193 241 249 192 174 161 153 154 160 188 180 118 114 195 199 428 178 559 177 783 185 834 237 Podbean Unlimited Audio 0 20,363 19,652 21,612 7,596 6,751 7,629 5,049 4,757 4,136 4,089 8,165 5,505 5,879 4,695 6,339 5,957 7,081 6,340 9,277 7,563 4,835 4,771 20,327 20,907 29,214 30,074 11,544 10,057 12,033 13,649 13,879 12,563 178,954 137,692 22,330 25,055 Podbean Unlimited Plus 0 21,882 22,161 24,667 9,036 6,775 7,104 4,250 4,377 2,842 2,581 9,716 9,381 7,002 6,637 6,795 6,998 10,297 10,211 10,319 7,576 5,284 4,160 26,152 25,962 31,526 22,927 15,470 13,978 11,101 8,692 17,240 16,634 203,250 133,332 26,666 25,081 Podbean Business Basic 0 2,066 2,048 345 122 166 149 204 140 220 135 196 83 231 79 159 120 286 109 248 119 518 491 1,291 163 232 216 459 176 272 124 371 73 149 98 526 75 Podcast.co 160 2,013 1,788 451 173 293 181 596 283 284 252 322 211 302 164 583 455 192 115 289 151 365 136 268 125 259 243 364 185 289 138 584 106 128 126 2,097 2,123 Podiant (41.2 MB) 32 4,267 2,625 3,036 251 5,911 219 4,266 171 2,597 230 2,656 96 6,096 325 400 392 1,679 544 1,321 83 280 273 1,266 131 1,516 488 7,790 112 2,342 114 3,315 575 3,341 451 3,805 3,893 Podigee (35.7 MB) 16 6,799 6,917 5,194 2,888 1,870 1,821 3,333 2,951 2,928 2,905 3,522 3,479 3,457 3,454 2,841 2,871 2,833 2,761 3,360 3,372 2,342 2,330 360 336 1,007 907 170 146 623 492 6,167 6,181 35,234 33,151 13,069 10,275 Podmio (S3) 160 2,544 2,533 2,115 1,450 401 363 539 531 814 816 1,233 1,195 1,441 1,427 688 530 632 589 1,478 1,473 637 637 1,864 1,838 1,666 1,677 1,903 1,900 1,561 1,551 3,500 3,447 5,951 4,792 9,543 4,533 podOmatic (41.37 MB) 0 12,072 13,086 21,447 3,256 2,190 2,060 2,175 2,117 2,146 2,166 1,498 1,449 792 794 3,056 3,055 2,989 2,514 2,517 2,007 3,528 3,458 9,774 10,017 6,721 5,431 5,651 5,697 5,046 5,156 7,828 6,660 259,541 171,036 27,700 26,927 Podserve.fm 16 2,634 2,325 1,043 202 173 97 434 376 78 77 78 76 198 196 477 505 718 697 706 668 215 209 244 168 728 83 271 164 307 171 2,093 2,126 6,621 6,483 3,361 3,128 RedCircle (55.1 MB) 16 3,966 3,943 3,415 2,496 1,927 1,760 1,261 1,124 1,273 1,161 2,303 2,206 5,053 5,095 2,200 1,995 1,442 1,287 1,919 1,886 1,419 1,308 2,975 2,886 2,886 2,879 3,236 3,205 2,865 2,787 4,225 4,188 9,582 7,993 10,076 8,949 Simplecast 8 2,462 1,792 991 187 183 147 271 184 150 149 193 93 200 100 265 189 202 205 569 568 877 813 341 206 238 106 286 133 317 141 1,718 1,646 3,111 3,102 6,942 5,936 SiteGround* 3,278 3,022 10,127 3,688 3,240 2,928 4,410 4,330 2,877 2,730 5,227 4,914 4,425 3,793 2,932 2,705 3,089 3,027 3,030 2,958 2,693 2,680 3,642 3,479 4,846 4,564 3,719 3,599 4,116 3,777 70,788 10,282 34,359 26,537 8,648 9,262 SoundCloud 24 1,871 1,767 422 145 190 143 321 230 207 156 135 121 788 147 428 375 240 180 561 545 499 459 1,681 116 360 77 223 71 295 154 83 80 234 114 522 100 Spreaker 16 7,424 5,138 2,414 2,342 1,322 1,290 2,007 1,845 6,433 5,050 2,291 2,308 2,271 2,376 3,358 2,531 1,452 1,553 3,567 3,585 2,476 2,376 1,708 999 581 381 443 442 427 391 3,242 2,997 2,993 2,906 4,058 4,054 Transistor 0 1,709 1,702 380 198 506 247 468 350 245 234 260 209 171 162 511 242 270 172 225 216 329 220 649 120 386 188 385 155 408 185 409 211 436 141 431 157 Whooshka (55.1 MB) 0 4,415 4,113 1,001 212 697 239 888 271 826 242 474 164 912 169 698 281 926 281 468 164 1,782 1,605 3,205 487 811 165 784 166 2,130 190 405 172 636 176 384 234 Zencast 0 2,622 2,637 2,951 2,491 2,443 2,046 2,397 2,399 2,611 2,617 4,761 3,167 3,414 3,449 2,488 2,514 2,401 2,469 3,789 3,811 1,941 1,982 404 398 388 396 462 433 491 502 6,036 6,100 6,309 6,264 6,895 6,887 table.wpDataTable td.numdata { text-align: right !important; } Need personalized podcasting help? I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast. Ask your questions or share your feedback Comment on the shownotes Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221 Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome) Connect with me Subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast on Apple Podcasts or on Android. Join the Facebook Page and watch live podcasting Q&A on Mondays at 2pm (ET) Subscribe on YouTube for video reviews, Q&A, and more Follow @theDanielJLewis Disclosure This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Kicked from Apple Podcasts? What Happens When You Keyword-Stuff Podcast Tags – TAP334
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> In the middle of 2018, Apple started cracking down on keyword-stuffing in podcast tags. My own show, The Audacity to Podcast, was even affected, and I’ve been tracking and testing other podcasts. Here’s what I found! TL;DR: Make the title tag the title, the author tag the author(s), and put descriptive text in descriptive fields. Don’t try to game the system. Background First, I’ll admit I knew I was crossing this new and not completely defined line for what was allowed in podcast tags. Although I never encouraged stuffing or spamming your RSS tags with keywords, I had been giving the advice to include some keywords in the form of a sentence-style tagline as this can help with podcast SEO. But when some unethical podcasters learned how Apple Podcasts / iTunes search works, they would abuse these tools and spam their RSS tags with keywords, hoping to boost their podcasts’ findability. For the whole of this blog post, only my own podcasts and those acceptable examples will be real podcasts. Unacceptable examples will be fictionalized. (But do the spammers really need the protection?) How much is “spamming”? Because Apple Podcasts currently searches only the title and author tags (show-level and episode-level), some podcasts would fill those fields with extra keywords and descriptions. Here’s a clear example of abuse (again, this is fictionalized but based on actual samples): Title: My Awesome Podcast – Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Passive Income, Relationships, Bitcoin, Business, SEO, and Vanilla Cream Soda Author: John Smith, expert entrepreneur who interviews and discusses marketing ideas from people like Pat Flynn, Seth Godin, Zig Ziglar and more. If Steve Jobs was still alive, he would be on this podcast I’m going to assume you’re among the intelligent and ethical podcasters and podcast-fans. So you can probably immediately recognize that this example is trying way too hard. Without a doubt, if your podcast has a title or author tag that looks like the above, it will be rejected. This is happening immediately for new podcasts submitting through Podcasts Connect, and it’s also happening to existing podcasts (read on for when that seems to happen). The unacceptable gray area Perhaps a podcaster is trying to be ethical but also trying to make their podcast findable for relevant search terms. Thus, they may be more conservative with their keyword usage, even in line with what I used to teach. Here’s what my own podcast was before Apple rejected it. Title: The Audacity to Podcast – how to launch and improve your podcast Author: Daniel J. Lewis, podcasting industry expert and how to podcast teacher I left my podcast like this when Apple started tightening the standards and I knew my podcast had the potential to be removed. But as you can see, I wasn’t stuffing my tags with a list of keywords; I was giving my podcast and myself what I consider to be “taglines” or “subtitles.” In the process of discussing things with the Apple Podcasts support team, I learned that while my title contained extraneous information, it was especially the author tag that got my podcast kicked out of Apple Podcasts. What is the acceptable limit? If your own podcast has been rejected by Apple, you’ve probably seen this response verbatim from their support team. Your show was rejected because the author field or title field contains extraneous information that should be included as part of its description (<description>, <itunes:subtitle>, or <itunes:summary>) tags. While you might think this is a vague response from Apple, I think it’s a clear enough definition of the limit. Not the “extraneous” part, but “information that should be included as part of its description.” In my own podcast, “how to launch and improve your podcast” was not the title; it was a description. And “podcasting industry expert and how to podcast teacher” was not the creator of the podcast, it was a description of the creator. Put in a profound way: The title tag should be only the title. The author tag should be only the author. The descriptive tags should contain the descriptions. “Duh,” right? I think Apple’s standard does make total sense. If you have multiple regular cohosts or there’s a company or network behind the podcast, it would also be acceptable to include those names in the author tag. They are, after all, authors of the podcast! Thus, author tags like the following are acceptable: Daniel J. Lewis | Noodle Mix Network Mike Carruthers | Wondery John Smith, Jane Doe, and Christian Wolff • ZZZ Accounting Focus Features, Stitcher, Limina House & Jad Abumrad Malcolm Gladwell / Panoply In further correspondence with the Apple Podcasts support team, I learned there’s a little more flexibility with the title, but not much. A quick look at the top 200 of all podcasts in Apple Podcasts gives several good examples of acceptable flexibility in titles. Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc. Dark Topic: A True Crime Podcast Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast Let’s Not Meet: A True Horror Podcast UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories The Church of What’s Happening Now: With Joey Coco Diaz Death by Misadventure: True Paranormal Mystery Fantasy Footballers – Fantasy Football Podcast Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Addendum Notice that, contrary to some of the legalistic fear and advice, these titles do contain separators, such as colons (:) and hyphens (-). Some of these titles are even unnecessarily redundant with the host’s name in the title! (So, yes, there’s still some room for improvement, but I recommend not including the host’s name in the title.) Also, notice that none of these titles contain a tagline in the title. The extra text is either part of the unique branding (such as Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked) or a generic title of the genre (such as “true crime podcast”). This leads me to believe my biggest concern for findability—fan podcasts—will still be allowed to include the title of the fandom inside the title of their podcast. Thus, I think titles such as the following would be acceptable and serve the need for podcast SEO. ONCE – Unofficial Once Upon a Time podcast Welcome to Level Seven: Agents of SHIELD fan podcast What about podcast SEO? I was the first to thoroughly study, test, and create a complete course on SEO for Podcasters (major revisions planned for 2019!). And I know that the big reason podcasters want to get extra keywords in their tags is that this helps with search-engine optimization (SEO). As the thinking and my previous teaching went, the “My Awesome Podcast” show would be more findable for a topic like “marketing” if that keyword was in the title or author tags, since that’s all that Apple Podcasts and iTunes currently search. (Most other podcast apps also search the show-level description tags.) But in my example, “marketing” would be a description of the podcast, not a title. Thus, it shouldn’t be in the title. So how else could the podcast be found for that and the other topics? This is where other ethical podcast-SEO strategies need to take priority. Many of the top podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts/iTunes, include some information from individual episodes. Web searches especially prioritize the individual posts’ information. Thus, if you want your podcast found for certain keywords that aren’t part of your show-level title, I suggest making well-titled episodes about those topics. Using my fictionalized example, I could make episodes like the following. Awesome Marketing Tips Should You Invest in Bitcoin? Why Vanilla Cream Soda Is the Best Thinking of Becoming an Entrepreneur? 10 Passive Income Strategies How to Make Relationships Last You can even apply this to fan podcasts. Top 10 MacGyver Episodes The Best LA Dodgers Games Why Watch Once Upon a Time? Most Popular iPhone Models These episode titles contain those target keywords, so they contribute to the overall show’s findability for those same keywords. But even more importantly, these titles make a better experience for the audience by clearly communicating the subjects of each episode. So when you practice better SEO techniques, you’re actually serving your audience better! And that leads to a question you may be wondering. Why does Apple suddenly want to stop the keyword-stuffing? I think Apple cares about cleaning up the podcasts in their catalog for one huge reason: the user experience. There seem to be three sides to this. 1. Cleaner listings Scrolling through a chart of top podcasts or a subscription list is actually a much better experience when the titles are clean, clear, and concise. I noticed this when I was looking through my own podcast subscriptions. The shorter, non-truncated titles were easier to read, the screen was less cluttered, and the titles actually stood out more! My subscriptions went from something like this: The Audacity to Podcast – how to launch and improve… Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs: effective ways to… Overcoming Fear: Everything you need to succeed in… Everything about Everything: The podcast that covers… To now something like this: The Audacity to Podcast Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Overcoming Fear Everything about Everything The charts and feature lists in podcast apps are also a lot easier to read when titles and author tags are not truncated! These cleaner listings really do make a better user experience! 2. Voice-based interactions Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and more vocal interaction technologies are entering our world through smartphones, smartwatches, smart speakers, entertainment systems, apps, automobiles, and more. These interactions are supposed to feel natural and not robotic, and I think this is a big reason Apple wants to clean up their podcast catalog. A couple months ago, if you said, “Hey, Siri, subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast,” should would have responded, “Just to confirm, do you want to subscribe to the podcast ‘The Audacity to Podcast, how to launch and improve your podcast,’ by Daniel J. Lewis, podcasting industry expert and how to podcast teacher?” Imagine if my title or author tags were longer! But when the title and author tags are cleaned up, Siri’s response isn’t so overwhelming: “Just to confirm, do you want to subscribe to the podcast “The Audacity to Podcast” by Daniel J. Lewis?” Isn’t that nicer? And although this is probably not required on any voice assistant, can you imagine having to say the entire title correctly in order to subscribe to the podcast? “Alexa, subscribe to My Awesome Podcast.” “I found 200 podcasts by that name. Which one do you want?” “Alexa, subscribe to My Awesome Podcast – Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Business.” “I’m sorry, I can’t find a podcast by that name.” “Alexa, subscribe to My Awesome Podcast – Entrepreneurship, Marketing, SEO, and Bitcoin.” “I’m sorry, I can’t find a podcast by that name.” “Alexa, subscribe to My Awesome Podcast – Business, Relationships, and something about soda.” “I’m sorry, I can’t find a podcast by that name.” “Alexa, throw me out the podbay doors.” Cleaner tags make a much better spoken user experience! 3. Cracking down on spammers and cheaters At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2018, James Boggs, a manager in the Apple Podcasts team, said: We’re continually refreshing and managing our directory, automatically retiring shows which become technically unavailable or those that run afoul of our directory content guidelines, such as those with spammy content or shows seeking to manipulate our top charts. Don’t do that. Just please don’t do that. —James Boggs, WWDC 2018, session 501: “Introducing Podcast Analytics” Content creators are already familiar search engines tweaking their algorithms to demote or blacklist sites using unethical tricks in attempts to cheat their way to the top of search results. I think James Boggs made it clear that Apple is seeking to do the same thing with Apple Podcasts, probably with the hopes to expose and reward those with high-quality content and a truly engaged audience the podcasts earned legitimately. We can apply this to many other fields and quickly realize how annoying it is to be confronted by those who are trying way too hard to close the deal: used-car salespeople, politicians, and those overly zealous people at mall kiosks. How is Apple finding podcasts to reject? The first place Apple is looking is at newly submitted podcasts. For years, we’ve been familiar with rules for podcasts in Apple Podcasts, such as avoiding profanity in the text or cover art, a valid podcast RSS feed, and some more requirements and guidelines. If a podcast doesn’t meet these standards, it gets rejected before even entering the Apple Podcasts catalog. But, like my own show, many existing and even long-running podcasts are being rejected (unfortunately, it seems to be without notice, too). What I can tell for sure, based on data from tracking tools I’ve developed, is that Apple is keeping a close eye on the top 200 of all podcasts and probably featured sections (“New & Noteworthy,” “What’s Hot,” and such). I’ve been tracking several podcasts I thought would likely get rejected, some of them, including my own, have been going for months or even years. But in most cases, the very day they made it into the top 200 of all podcasts, they got rejected. I’ve seen this happen as quickly as three hours after breaking into the top 200. And you may think this means your podcast is “safe” from ranking in the top 200, but the top charts in Apple Podcasts are based on new subscriptions. And as testing and data consistently confirm, it really doesn’t take a lot of new subscribers in a day to push a podcast into the top 200. My own The Audacity to Podcast was sitting below the top 200 for months and then it must have been featured or mentioned somewhere else because it jumped overnight into the top 200—and I didn’t do a single thing! It’s even on a hiatus (this important episode being the exception)! For clarification, I’m not referring to the top 200 within any of the 67 genres or categories in Apple Podcasts. Instead, I’m referring to the top 200 of all podcasts in Apple Podcasts. While I’ve seen several podcasts get away with spammy tags in the top 200 of those other genres, I doubt it will be long before Apple expands their scope to police more areas. It also seems Apple is auditing podcasts that change their show-level information, such as the title, author tag, description, or cover art. Beyond that, there could be some other algorithms to help surface suspected podcasts, such as monitoring shows with heavy activity or recently published episodes. And I think what catches Apple’s attention might not be any kind of separator (like a colon, pipe, or dash), but the length of the title and author tags. That’s not to say something long will get kicked, but something long might be more likely to catch Apple’s attention, so simply omitting a separator is not adequate protection. I’ve seen podcasts kicked that were abusing only one tag, but not both. What happens if your podcast is rejected? Maybe you didn’t fix your podcast in time, or you want to know what the risk is. Here’s what I’ve observed. New podcasts: fix and resubmit If you are submitting a new podcast to Apple through Podcasts Connect and it gets rejected, the best thing to do is clean up your tags, get a new feed URL (even if by simply changing one character or using a service like Podcast Mirror), and then submit that new feed URL. Because this has the possibility of requiring you to change your feed URL, I recommend submitting to Apple before submitting anywhere else. That way, you’ll know you have an acceptable feed and won’t have to mess with maintaining multiple URLs or switching other destinations. Apple may notify you of the rejection, or you may have to log in to Podcasts Connect to check on the status of your submission in order to know that your podcast was rejected. Existing podcasts: fix and contact Apple If your show was already in the Apple Podcasts catalog and it got rejected, make the changes in your podcast feed and then contact Apple through Podcasts Connect. Ensure your changes are visible in your feed and tell Apple that you already corrected the issue. Then ask for your podcast to be reinstated with its ratings, rankings, and reviews intact. The more information you can provide Apple, and the less back-and-forth you initiate, the quicker you can get your podcast restored. I haven’t heard from any podcasters who were notified by Apple that their podcasts were kicked out. You could check for yourself on a regular basis if you’re walking that ethical line, or you’ll soon be able to use a special tool I’m creating to be notified if there’s a problem. Or, simply don’t do bad things and then you probably won’t have to worry about it! Will the rejection affect existing subscribers? This was a big concern of mine and I shared a bunch of in-depth details inside Podcasters’ Society. But I’m pleased and relieved to confirm that no, your existing subscribers will not be affected. This is thanks to the decentralized nature of podcasting. With only a few exceptions (Spotify, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, and maybe some others), podcast apps will subscribe people directly to a podcast’s RSS feed. This is even the case with Apple Podcasts. I did have a concern over how Apple Podcasts behaves with their mirror URLs (such as https://pcr.apple.com/id[ID_NUMBER]), but through testing, I’ve confirmed that even if the mirror URL is broken (as happens when Apple removes a podcast from their catalog), your subscribers are still connected directly to your RSS feed. Thus, even if your podcast is removed from Apple Podcasts (or other podcast apps, with only those few exceptions), your subscribers can continue to access your RSS feed and download your new and past episodes. There is a warning with this. If you submitted the mirror URL Apple gave you (https://pcr.apple.com/id[ID_NUMBER]) to any other apps or directories, a rejection from Apple will disconnect you from your audience. But this is only if you submitted that mirror URL to other places or linked to it, which I and other podcasting experts have advised against and I doubt many (if any) podcasters have done anyway. We also urge you to subscribe to your own podcast(s) in Apple Podcasts or iTunes and in your preferred podcast app if you use something other than Apple’s apps. This will not only confirm for you that your podcast is still available to subscribers, but it also lets you see that your latest episode downloads even when it’s not yet visible in Apple’s catalog. Your podcast in other apps There are many other popular podcast apps (such as Overcast) using the iTunes Search API. This allows those other apps to not have to maintain their own podcast catalog with creator submissions, but to instead search the most popular catalog to which most podcasters have already submitted their shows. When your podcast is rejected from Apple Podcasts, it also gets removed from the iTunes Search API. This makes your podcast not findable in those other apps, and thus makes it much harder for people to subscribe to your podcast in those same apps. (Any good podcast app will still allow manual subscriptions by pasting a podcast RSS feed URL, but that’s a cumbersome process.) Like Apple Podcasts and iTunes, no longer being findable affects potential new subscribers but not your current audience. What you need to do NOW Yes, I think you should make some changes immediately. 1. Don’t wait Please don’t wait for Apple’s “ban-hammer” to come down on your podcast! You may think your podcast is safe because it’s never “at risk” for being a top-200 podcast. You may think it’s safe because you removed separator characters from the <title> or <itunes:author> tags. But it really could be any moment that your podcast catches Apple’s auditing attention and gets kicked out of Apple Podcasts and iTunes. 2. Clean up your show title Make your podcast title tag contain only the title. If you host a fan podcast, go ahead and include one title of the object of your fandom, but still keep it as clean as possible. For example, don’t make it something like, “ONCE – Unofficial Once Upon a Time fan podcast with theories, reviews, interviews, and your feedback,” make it simple, “ONCE – Unofficial Once Upon a Time podcast.” 3. Clean up your author tag Who creates, owns, and hosts your podcast? That’s what should be in the author tag. There should be only names in there: no titles, no taglines, no keywords. It’s okay to have multiple names of regular cohosts, but don’t include the names of guests, mentors, or inspirations. 4. Improve your episode titles Like show-level titles, your episode titles need to be clean and not stuffed with keywords. But episode titles are easier to work with because they can be far more specific and descriptive than a show title can be. So please don’t title your episodes with only bland numbers or dates. Be descriptive and compelling, especially for topics people might be searching for. And don’t try to stuff your episode titles, either! Remove extraneous text that belongs in other places, like the show-level title or repetitive (and thus probably useless) text. 5. Make episodes to cover your keywords Lastly, if you don’t already have episodes about those topics you wanted to stuff in your other podcast tags, start making those episodes now! Like my previous tip, ensure these titles are clear, concise, and compelling. Following these best practices will help ensure podcast apps don’t kick out your show. And these principles help you build a stronger brand, and help make a better experience for your audience!

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Podcast Details
Started
Jun 18th, 2010
Latest Episode
Oct 8th, 2019
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
338
Avg. Episode Length
43 minutes
Explicit
No

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